Kaspersky is a Russia-based antivirus provider that offers three level of antivirus protection, in addition to a complementary program that was launched last year. The software is particularly notable for its stellar malware detection in addition to the real-time protection it offers thanks to the efforts of the Kaspersky Lab and a worldwide protection network connecting all users.
For the most part, Kaspersky’s apps are both lightweight and simple to download, coming with an efficient installation wizard that takes care of the entire process so you don’t have to worry about it.
If you simply want to give Kaspersky a whirl and see how it operates, you can download a trial version without having to part with any sensitive information, like your email address or credit card details. Alternatively, you could simply download the free antivirus, assess its strengths and weaknesses, and upgrade if required.
At just 2.5MB, Kaspersky’s starter installation file is tiny and, once that’s downloaded, all you have to do is select your preferred language and accept the company’s terms and conditions. At that point, the main file installation will take place but even that is surprisingly uneventful, taking less than 10 minutes to complete and showing a nice photograph of a forest stream to keep you occupied while it beavers away in the background.
There’s very little else to say about the setup process, certainly on a Windows device, because it really is that simple. If you do run into any problems with a paid product, you can take advantage of Kaspersky’s technical support, whereas those trying the free antivirus product will be left to their own devices.
Overall, we’d be prepared to say this is the smoothest, fastest setup you’re likely to experience with an antivirus product which is testimony to Kaspersky’s efforts to constantly improve its apps and deliver the best in terms of functionality.
With Kaspersky, even the entry-level free version of its antivirus software benefits from the same level of protection as its premium products. Sure, the more you pay, the more features you get, but how the software actually detects and defends against malware and other cyber threats is consistent throughout.
Although it is a very basic piece of software, Kaspersky’s free antivirus nevertheless produces near-perfect scores in lab tests, whether its detecting and deflecting malware attacks or preventing real-time threats from sneaking into the system during a file download. It includes Kaspersky’s patented System Watcher feature which is designed to protect against ransomware attacks and prevent malicious programs from using exploits to gain control of your device.
Antiviruses are designed to protect against both known threats and zero-day attacks, meaning they all require a two-pronged approach. For known malware, cybersecurity companies rely on a database of previous attacks to build a picture of known viruses, worms and other threats, and how they behave. This information is then used for signature-matching which is the most common way of protecting against threats that have been around for a while or use a standard operating procedure.
Kaspersky has been around for over 20 years and currently has about 400 million users, so its databases are some of the most comprehensive around, equipping the company with enough information to ensure it can deliver the best possible protection against known threats.
Building a defense against zero-day threats, or malware that has never been seen before and behaves differently to known viruses, requires a slightly different approach. Kaspersky uses machine learning, or artificial intelligence, to guard against these as yet unfamiliar threats and its effectiveness is indisputable. Just a couple of months ago, Kaspersky identified yet another attempt to exploit a newly discovered vulnerability in Windows 10. A patch was quickly released, preventing an attack that could have seen hackers take full control over the infected devices.
While no antivirus can really prevent its users from receiving suspicious emails, Kaspersky can flag them and warn the user of a possible phishing attack. Automatic defenses will pick up on even the most cleverly disguised phishing attack, so they won’t accidentally lure you into unforeseen digital dangers.
With near-perfect scores in tests performed by every cybersecurity expert under the sun, or so it seems, it’s impossible to give Kaspersky anything but serious kudos for the level of protection its products deliver. Kaspersky also performs consistently well in terms of impact on system performance, the number of false positives generated and usability. Its firewall isn’t half bad either!
While basic antivirus from Kaspersky is truly basic, its internet security suites come fully loaded with useful features and intuitive tools. Nevertheless, one feature of Kaspersky’s free antivirus that comes as a bit of a surprise is the onscreen keyboard. This isn’t often included in basic antivirus products and yet it offers effective defense against spyware.
Upgrading from the free antivirus to the basic alternative isn’t particularly rewarding, adding just a couple of additional features to its repertoire. However, the ability to scan a device for infections that could be hindering its performance makes it worth paying for, but not when you consider how much more power is available with its mid-range Internet Security package.
It’s at this point that Kaspersky really comes into its own, offering multi-faceted protection for PCs, Macs, and smartphones. With Internet Security, users get the Safe Money feature which uses self-defense technologies and the Host-based Intrusion Prevention System, to protect your online financial transactions against potential man-in-the-middle and phishing attacks.
Next in the Internet Security package features listed by Kaspersky is “Privacy” but in what form and how it’s protected isn’t really explained. After all, there’s no VPN to give you private browsing nor a password manager to hide your sensitive login data. Leaving that enigma to one side, it’s time to move onto Kaspersky’s flagship product – Total Security.
With the premium product, users get three new and powerful features, namely, Safe Kids, Passwords and File Protection. While these are pretty self-explanatory, it’s worth mentioning that the Safe Kids parental control feature was the only one to meet AV-Comparatives’ exacting standards, blocking over 99% of 2,000 sites with inappropriate content for children and producing just one false positive.
Kaspersky’s password manager was recently re-released and now enables users to protect and securely access images and PDF documents, as well as passwords. To keep valuable documents safe, users can now upload scans of passports or drivers’ licenses, for example, making them easy to find without making them vulnerable. The password manager still performs the usual tasks of securing and generating strong passwords to replace weaker alternatives.
The file protection feature included in Total Security uses Transparent Data Encryption to secure all the data contained in the vault, preventing unauthorized access and securing that data against potential leakage.
Although Kaspersky’s packages are compatible with a variety of operating systems, it does tweak its apps to tackle new and evolving threats. For example, it recently upgraded its Android protection that will detect malicious behavior in an app before it’s launched, effectively nullifying the amount of damage it can cause.
For most users, these tools provide ample protection but for those who want a little bit more, Kaspersky has a variety of additional tools available, including its free security cloud and its very affordable SecureLine VPN.
Ease of Use
While not a thing of beauty, Kaspersky’s functional user interface is clean, simple and uncluttered, making it easy to get to grips with. Using the familiar tile layout, users can access the main functions of their antivirus product, while the cog menu in the bottom left-hand corner takes you to the settings menu where you can customize how your product operates.
Kaspersky puts a lot of power into the hands of its users, allowing them to customize almost every aspect of their protection. Whether you want to enable Gaming Mode so you don’t get interrupted by notifications or tinker with your threats and exclusions settings, you can do so just by clicking a button.
Even if you’re not particularly familiar with or comfortable with cybersecurity technology, Kaspersky translates it into a series of simple actions via which you can adapt your product to suit your individual needs. If you do run into any difficulties, simply click on the headset icon and explore the support options available.
You really don’t have to be a hotshot techie to operate Kaspersky and, from the initial installation to the most advanced settings, Kaspersky’s products are so simple to use a caveman could do it! At a push, we might suggest adding a little more flair to the user interface, but beyond that, it’s hard to find fault.
All the best cybersecurity companies seem to offer a free version of their more sophisticated internet security packages. While this is often limited, few are quite as bare-bones as Kaspersky’s so, while we appreciate the effort, it’s probably better to plump for its basic paid alternative if you want any kind of serious security.
The entry-level product is pricier than many similar products but does offer protection for three devices, rather than the standard single-device subscription, making it better value for money. Obviously, if you’ve only got one device you need protecting, you won’t benefit from Kaspersky’s generosity, although you could share the wealth, and the expense, by sharing your antivirus protection with friends or other family members.
Kaspersky runs regular discounts and special offers so there’s often the chance to pick up some solid protection without paying the full whack, although, when it comes to Kaspersky’s more advanced packages, its prices are as competitive as its performance. While some premium security packages cost nearly $100 for an annual subscription, Kaspersky’s costs just half of this, while its mid-range product, Internet Security, is available for just under $50 per year. That works out at just over $4 per month which isn’t bad considering both the level of protection and the range of features you get for your money.
Like many of its rivals, Kaspersky offers both free trials and a 30-day money-back guarantee so there’s absolutely no reason to hand over any money until you’re convinced this is the right product for you.
All in all, Kaspersky offers excellent value for money and plenty of opportunities to test its products prior to purchase.
Regular readers of our reviews will know just how much and for how long we’ve been harping on about the lack of online support available from antivirus developers. While VPNs have cutting-edge technology waiting to pounce on the slightest hint of an inquiry, antivirus companies seem monumentally disinterested.
Thankfully, Kaspersky’s decided to change all that… or so I thought. On my first visit to Kaspersky’s website, I was convinced I saw a live chat option available but subsequent visits failed to conjure it up, making me suspect it was a product of my imagination all along. When I created an account and logged in, however, the figment of my imagination became a reality, and I was suddenly able to chat with a real person!
Admittedly, users do have to enter quite a bit of information in order to start the live chat, including email addresses and the license key, however, the response was almost instantaneous, and a customer support representative enlightened me on database processes within a couple of minutes. It really is a joy to behold a cybersecurity company that has embraced the latest in customer support and we hope its rivals will soon follow suit.
The live chat support is just one of the many aspects of Kaspersky’s comprehensive online support options which include a knowledge base, an FAQ section, a community forum and even a VirusDesk where you can check links for potential dangers. Although you don’t have to create an account to download a trial version of Kaspersky’s software, you do need one if you want to get access to the online technical support section.
If you prefer to email or speak to someone over the telephone rather than using the live chat service, you’ll find contact details hidden at the very bottom of the support page screen, written in very tiny writing as though Kaspersky hopes no one will see it there. Once you click on that tiny writing, however, scrolling down the destination page will reveal a host of email addresses and phone numbers which will put you in touch with the customer support department or the sales team as necessary.
Despite concerns at government level, Kaspersky produces some of the most effective antivirus software on the market. Quick to download, simple to use, and effective at both detecting and diffusing potential threats, Kaspersky’s apps provide a seamless user experience and a high level of customization.
All Kaspersky’s products perform impressively in lab tests, especially when it comes to malware protection and parental controls. Although it’s premium products don’t include all the bells and whistles of some of its rivals, what it does offer is more than enough for the average user. Stand-alone features like the Secure Line VPN can be added on for a few dollars a month, while free tools are also available to take your protection to another level.
Kaspersky’s apps are competitively priced, although the free software is more limited than other similar products. Having said that, there seems little reason for the basic antivirus product to exist as it offers very little additional functionality for a price that seems high when compared to its more comprehensive Internet Security package.
Knowing you’re protected by the latest security technology is reason enough to invest in Kaspersky and being able to take its premium products for a test drive before investing makes them even more appealing. With apps available for most major operating systems and upgrades taking place on a regular basis, Kaspersky ensures it provides specialized protection for the full range of devices, from Android to Windows.
Overall, the only drawback with Kaspersky is that it happens to be a Russian company which makes it tricky for some people to trust it. If you can get beyond that fact and acknowledge that its an advanced cybersecurity company offering top-class antivirus and internet security products, you may have just found the best protection around at a very reasonable price.